Alien: Covenant Review

Like a madman creator trying to play God, Ridley Scott and the team behind the “Alien” prequels “Prometheus” and now “Alien: Covenant” keep running the same experiment with slight variations, never quite able to replicate the excitement of that initial moment of creation (1979’s “Alien”). There’s nothing wrong or bad about either these precursor films, but at this point, it’s fair to say there’s something repetitive.

Neither film captures the horror, dread or claustrophobia of “Alien,” and that’s okay. “Prometheus” was an attempt to build upon that film’s lore and dive into the themes that were always lurking below the surface; “Covenant” continue its push in that direction as well — it just doesn’t push that direction into any new territory.

Like every “Alien” film, “Covenant” introduces us to a surely ill-fated crew, this time on the ship Covenant, manned by couples escorting thousands of humans in cryo-sleep and frozen embryos to a habitable planet in a distant galaxy. When some kind of energy event wakes them up, they intercept a human signal from a much nearer planet with even more promise for life and decide to check it out, which is of course a big mistake.

“Covenant” sticks so fiercely to the plot mechanics of its predecessors that it’s almost embarrassing. Nothing that happens is a surprise for anyone with a modicum of familiarity with the franchise. Perhaps if 20th Century Fox had hired any of the “Prometheus” writers back, someone might have had the common sense to note that this movie had already been made before and that perhaps the series could benefit from a new direction. Instead, we’re left to watch events repeat themselves and hope that some greater wisdom about Xenomorphs and the “Alien” universe is revealed to us this time.

Michael Fassbender remains the crown jewel of these prequels, as David in “Prometheus” and as both David and Walter in “Covenant.” He so effectively conveys how an android would react and respond to a given situation. In this movie in particular, he’s even able to give both characters distinct personalities. He shines even more compared to the undercooked protagonists aboard the ship. The fact that they are couples could’ve been developed into something, but it seems the priority was to stick to the anonymity of the previous films, that we should only have a present-tense glimpse of who the crew members are as events unfold.

Scott also knows how to make a science-fiction movie. He doesn’t deserve a whole lot of praise for essentially remaking “Prometheus,” but the visuals, the pacing, the suspense (even if still nothing compared to “Alien”) all result in an engaging, striking film that’s easy to watch. In fact, there’s a little more physical payoff than you get from Scott’s other “Alien” films, so that’s a plus. It’s just a little unfortunate that his talent is expended on a story that relies entirely on conventions created by his previous films.


3/5 Stars


Alien: Covenant
Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by John Logan, Dante Harper (screenplay), Michael Green, Jack Paglen (story)
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup


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